The Realization of a Puzzle.
“ Mm hmm 5 pm. Ok.” Ram hung up the phone. It was a typical April morning. The shrill sun sending forth its beams through the light tinted glass of the windows. The continous chirping of the birds provided a pleasant if not joyous backdrop to a lazy morning. Ram’s mother was getting ready to leave for work and was in the midst of her usual hustle and bustle at this time every day. “So when is he coming?” she asked, more out of curiousity than mere concern. “5 in the evening at the station as usual.” Ram replied. It had been seven months since his father had filed for divorce. The day it happened, Ram like any other son living in the fantasy of a perfect family was shattered but with time he got used to it and what was utter disbelief and dejection at first, turned to courteous disregard as time wore on. His mother, like the firm believer in God, she was refused to employ a lawyer and presented her side of the case herself. The verdict went in her favor and the court saw no grounds to grant a divorce. Ram saw it as a triumph of courage and truth while his father saw it as a gender bias from the female judge.
“One, station” Ram bought his ticket as soon as he boarded the bus as he usually liked to do. He, though, didn’t like stepping out in the evening too much. The thought of the bus making its way through hordes of people made him want to stay home and watch people teeing off on the green instead. As he’d expected he got late owing to the traffic and saw his father waiting across the ticket counters. His father suggested going to the Irani café nearby to talk. Ashenfaced, Ram sat across his father in the café, his father, with whom he hadn’t had a decent conversation in over three years. “ So how is college?” his father asked. “Going pretty well” said Ram, as if reading from a script. “Here, this is 4000, keep it.” His father said handing over an envelope. “Why don’t you ever call me? It’s always me calling you to check on you.” His father asked. “I’m really busy with college and my internship and so don’t really get the time.” Said Ram with a shrug of his shoulders as if to convince himself, more than his father. “Hmm. I’ve heard the chicken here is pretty good, you want something to eat?” asked his father. “Nah, I’m good.” Replied Ram almost as if wanting to end this awkward meeting”. “Okay so everything else fine?” “Mm Hmm.” “Okay then I’ll leave now. Do call me sometime okay?” “Mm okay.” Replied Ram, almost relieved that it was time to go now. After his father left, Ram decided to take a smoke. He’d been smoking now for two years oblivious to his mother of course. As he stood at the shanty , smoking, he wondered what his father would say if he saw him there smoking but, as was the case with all the other thoughts about his father, he put this one on the backburner too.
Time passed quickly, Ram was busy with his BMS classes and preparing for his imminent MBA entrance exams.
Meanwhile he and his mother were invited over at his aunt’s place to celebrate the occasion of his aunt’s 40th birthday. Knowing that his father would be present there along with the rest of their family with whom, he hadn’t really interacted much after the problems between his parents, Ram was quite reluctant to go. Eventually he ended up going after all since his aunt, with whom he was quite close since he was little, insisted on him coming. While greeting his family members after quite a long time, the awkwardness was quite palpable from his face and mannerisms. He talked a bit to his father, in the inhibited way he usually did and then mostly kept to himself and his earphones. “What are you listening to?” his 11 year old sister asked him. “Nothing, Just some music.””Can I play on your mobile?” “Alright but I don’t have many games, just one where you have to complete a jigsaw puzzle. Here I’ll show you how to play.” “Thanks so much bro!” “Its okay but be careful alright?” “Mm hmm” his sister replied, now completely engrossed in the game.
After dinner, he went into the room where all the men of the family were having a chat over few drinks. “Want something Ram?” his uncle asked him. Knowing his father was in the same room, Ram quite sheepishly asked what they were having. “Vodka” his uncle replied. “Have you ever had any?” “No.” lied Ram conveniently overlooking those birthday parties with his friends. “Here try a shot. Don’t worry I’ll talk to your father.” Ram, somewhat reassured now, had the pint. He saw his uncle talking to his father from a distance. Though he couldn’t actually guess what he said, but he could make out that his father looked quite okay with it. “So how many times have you had drinks before?” his father said as he sat next to him with his glass. “Just a couple of times, with friends, only beer though.” Ram replied nervously. “And your mother knows?” “No, you know her, she’ll just freak out. It’s okay though. I’m 19 now and I do it responsibly.” “ Do you know why I allowed you to drink here?” “No. Why?” “Because I know you are young and you will want to try things but at least I want you to try them in front of me rather than with people who you may think are your friends.” When his father said that Ram could only look up at him and smile. First time he had done that in years, he realized. “Ram, I know circumstances have been difficult for us lately, but I want you to think of me as a friend first. I always think that eases the gap between a father and a son and helps build trust. I know you’re a responsible kid but I also know trust is a two way street. I can’t expect you to trust me unless I trust you first. So anytime you need to talk about anything, you can come to me.” “Yes dad.” was all Ram could say, finding it hard to hide his surprise at his father’s words. Ram and his father talked some more and gradually Ram could feel the ice cracking after all these years. “Alright. I think I better sleep now. I have to leave for Bhopal tomorrow. I’ll be back in a week or so though.” His father said as he got up. “I’ll call you dad.” Ram said with a smile. Just then his sister came running into the room,” I did it bro! The puzzle is complete!”
This life is too short to mull over what’s wrong. Many a times the answers to all our questions are right there in front of us, but we are just too afraid or too rigid to recognize them J.